The edge of the gorge was no place for a recovering acrophobic*.
Despite its well-made viewing platform with solid handrails, the lookout overhung the sheer drop to the Joffre River far below, many more metres than I wanted to count**.
I don’t think I’ll EVER get used to being on an overhang …
But weirdly, the scare-factor just added to the attraction of Joffre Falls Karijini – a dramatic corner of the wild and remote Karijini National Park, deep in the heart of the RED Pilbara.
Did I say RED? Make that BEYOND red …
Earlier in the day the staggering view from the Oxer Lookout, at the junction of the Weano, Hancock, Joffre and Red Gorges, certainly gave its claim as Australia’s most spectacular a RED HOT go.
And a further scare-factor with the memorial to a guide killed by flash-flooding in 2004 while rescuing an injured hiker.
No, magnificent though it was, Karijini National Park wasn’t exactly a safe place.
And now we’d made our way upstream to the spectacular amphitheatre of the Joffre Falls crashing over the edge, plummeting down to the Joffre River below and carving the Joffre Gorge through the geometrical red, RED rock of its walls.
I ‘rested’ my hands on the guardrail in the white-knuckled grip of the not-yet-fully-cured acrophobic and tried not to think of the gaping chasm beneath as I gazed across the void to the sheer walls on the other side.
Little Corellas (the white spots in the photos) fluttered in and out of their roosting spots on the rocky ledges high above the ground. Or below the ground, depending on ones viewpoint …
My keen eye detected another movement directly opposite.
There were people on the cliff.
About half-way up, a young woman perched on a rocky ledge sloping towards the edge called out to the – OMIGOD – the people BENEATH!!!
I leaned over the railing to take a photo – possibly proof that acrophobia IS all in the mind – and saw them far below picking their way back along the narrow rocky ledge from the falls.
What were they thinking?
Maybe the steep, sloping rocky platforms looked worse than they really were from this angle.
Maybe climbing up rocks as big as houses tilting towards the ravine was fun.
Maybe to non-acrophobics the Joffre Falls Karijini walk was actually ‘Easy’.
Or maybe the walkers were just plain mad.
That’s what I thought before Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.
That’s what I thought AFTER Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.
And that’s what I still think now!!
Discretion may well be the better part of valour***. But sometimes I’m more inclined to agree that cowardice is the better part of discretion****!
* Acrophobia = fear of heights
** This cutesy phrase really means I couldn’t find the exact depth of the Gorge!
*** William Shakespeare (Henry IV part 1)
**** Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (although some will doubtless attribute it to Douglas Adams)
Want more information?
Joffre Gorge Karijini and Falls
- Dales Gorge Walk, Karijini
- Karijiini National Park
- Western Australia’s Pilbara region